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New schools, attendance boundaries, ‘Elemiddle’ model for next school year

     The 2019-2020 school year will introduce a new Normandy to students, families and the community.

      The next school year will see four significant changes for the Collaborative:

  • Elementary (or ‘Elemiddle’) schools with grades 1 through 8
  • Closing the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center
  • Re-opening Bel-Nor as an ‘Elemiddle’ school
  • Opening the new Normandy Early Learning Center serving students in pre-school, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten

       At its November 12 public meeting, the Normandy Joint Executive Governing Board (JEGB) approved the Collaborative’s recommendation for realigning the school attendance boundaries. The JEGB’s approval of the recommendation sets the stage for these major changes occurring in the 2019-2020 school year.

      Even with the realigned attendance boundaries, most students will remain at their current school. However, with the Collaborative closing the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center, and moving to a grade 1-8 model for the elementary levels, some students will be assigned to Bel-Nor which will become the Collaborative’s fifth ‘Elemiddle’ school. The Bel-Nor building is currently serving as the Normandy Kindergarten Center. Kindergartners will join pre-kindergarten and pre-schoolers at the new Early Learning Center.

      “In the last 10 years, Normandy opened and closed schools, and as a result, there are some families with students attending schools which are not in their neighborhoods,” explained Dr. Charles J. Pearson, Normandy Superintendent of Schools. “The realigned boundaries will also support our move to 1-8 Elemiddle schools and help us move to a neighborhood school concept for our families.”

     With the closing of the Normandy 7th-8th Grade Center next school year, the realigned boundaries will determine, based on a student’s address, which Elemiddle school the current seventh graders will attend in the 2019-2020 school year. The transition to a grade 1-8 configuration will send the current seventh grade students to one of the reconfigured ‘Elemiddle’ schools: Barack Obama, Jefferson, Lucas Crossing, Washington, or Bel-Nor (the current Normandy Kindergarten Center).

     The Collaborative held two public meetings in October to share the options for the realigned attendance boundaries. (Information on the boundary changes was sent to families by mail, posted to the website, and referenced on Normandy social media accounts.) After the sessions, the feedback was forwarded to a district-wide committee which made a recommendation to the Superintendent. Based on the community feedback and committee’s recommendation, the Superintendent made a recommendation on the realigned school attendance boundaries to the Joint Executive Governing Board, who approved the recommendation at the November 12 public meeting. Families directly affected by the school attendance boundary changes will receive specific information regarding school assignments in the coming weeks.

      One of the primary drivers of the realigned school attendance boundaries is the transition to the ‘Elemiddle’ (grade 1-8) schools in 2019-2020. The decision to convert to a grade 1-8 school configuration came after reviewing performance data of students in this age group going back to 2002. District leadership found that academic progress consistently stalled when many students reached the middle school years. This stall has led to some students being below grade-level going into high school, which has a negative effect on student academic performance, end-of-course exam and standardized test scores (e.g., ACT, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests).       

     Research points to several benefits of moving to an Elemiddle (grade 1-8) model. Education research found the benefits of the Elemiddle school model include:

  • Higher levels of parent involvement, who could still be involved in their child’s school as they were in the earlier grades.
  • Eliminates at least one additional transition (elementary to middle school) by students across school types.
  • Higher academic achievement as measured by both grade point averages and standardized test scores, especially in math.
  • Increased participation in extracurricular activities, demonstrated greater leadership skills, and less likely to be bullied than those following the elementary/middle school track.
  • Parents, teachers, and administrators at many schools that remained K–8 discovered that their students demonstrated fewer behavioral problems and higher academic achievement than many students enrolled in middle schools.